Thomas Dulorme fighting against a third strike on HBO
The mind of a knockout puncher can be a fragile thing and the first time Thomas Dulorme was under the bright HBO spotlight, it ended in a manner the lanky slugger would rather forget. Two years ago, Dulorme took a major and ill-advised step up in competition in which he was subsequently stopped by Argentine mauler Luis Abregu. Knocked down twice, Dulorme was saved from further punishment by his corner when it threw in the towel for its hurt but unbowed charge (still only a point behind on the judges’ scorecards) in the seventh round. An intelligent maneuver in hindsight since the exciting Dulorme has battled back, scoring five consecutive wins, topped last March by handing fellow prospect Karim Mayfield his first loss. Now Dulorme needs to do that victory one better by defeating brash Henry Lundy in the curtain-raiser of a tripleheader on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” show tonight (10 p.m. ET/PT).
Dulorme is only 24 years old, maturing as a man as well as boxer and 2014 has been a year of change, starting with a trainer switch to the ever-popular Robert Garcia in February. It’s a move Dulorme studied thoroughly before making the commitment of moving training camps from Puerto Rico to California. “Garcia has an extensive world-class experience. I’ll be soaking all his knowledge like a sponge,” said Dulorme. “There are a lot of good fighters in camp so I know sparring will be intense. It’s very competitive in this gym and I have to be on my game every time I step into the ring. I feel great and I’m looking forward to a challenging training camp.” A classy Dulorme hastened to add that this move did not mean he was discarding the people who guided him to this point, “I want to make clear that my former trainer, José Bonilla will always be a part of my team because I am very grateful for what he has done for me in my career as a trainer and currently as a manager.”
Not content with resolving problems he saw inside the ring, Dulorme trimmed his team further by addressing multiple promotional ties he had with three promoters who rushed to get a piece of the hot prospect early in his career. A confusing business partnership between Lou DiBella, Gary Shaw and “Team Puerto Rico,” who, at times, had conflicting interests, was settled when Dulorme bought out his option with Lou DiBella and settled on Gary Shaw Productions as his lone representative. Again, Dulorme made sure not to burn bridges or sound ungrateful when discussing the role of previous advisers, “I felt that lately, those businesses were not going well and I had to do something about it but this is nothing personal against DiBella and [Team Puerto Rico co-founder Javier] Bustillo because they have been very important in my career and I learned a lot from them.” Now Dulorme claims he can go forward with a single-minded focus and not have to serve the interests of three separate masters.
Much of the groundwork has already been laid with Dulorme ranked in the top 10 of three sanctioning bodies at No. 2 in the WBA, No. 4 with the IBF, No. 4 with the WBC and No. 5 with the WBO, making a title shot in late 2015 a real possibility if he can impress HBO on tonight. That is how Gary Shaw sees it as well, telling ESPN’s Dan Rafael, “This is make-or-break for Dulorme as he needs to make a statement. Mayfield (Dulorme’s last opponent on HBO) was a bad style. I believe Dulorme has been with new trainer Robert Garcia long enough to pick up the pointers. With a good showing, Dulorme can challenge for a world title.” Shaw added, “It’s a good fight and it will depend if Lundy moves a lot or wants to exchange with Dulorme. One fighter won’t be there to hear the bell for the 10th and final round.” Admittedly, Dulorme needs to do better than the last time HBO audiences saw him outpoint then-undefeated Mayfield in an uneventful bout marked by periods of mauling and inaction. Shaw thinks Dulorme will deliver while acknowledging the pressure and reality of the big stage, “Dulorme has made all the right sacrifices to get back on top. I always knew that Dulorme had star potential. This is his third fight on HBO and he must deliver or HBO will find someone else.”
While Dulorme was marching up the ranks as a young slugger, he had the look of a surefire future champion, blending power, speed and accuracy into a dynamic attacking force. Despite a high kayo ratio (stopped 14 of 21 victims), he begins everything with a stiff jab, finding openings by boxing instead of overpowering foes. It was the strategy of Dulorme’s boxing idols Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya; of course, he gives the obligatory nod to Felix Trinidad, expected of someone based in Puerto Rico. I say “based” because Dulorme’s parents are Dominican and he was born on the island of Saint Martin, moving to the Dominican Republic before settling in Puerto Rico at age nine, winning 140 of 142 amateur bouts. Began boxing at age eight, which shows in the ease in which Dulorme sometimes switches between a southpaw and orthodox stance to utilize punching angles. Picked up tricks and learned from rough sparring sessions at Puerto Rican gyms, honing legitimate power in both hands but likes to deliver the coup de grâce with a lethal left hook. At 5’10” tall with a 70-inch reach and broad shoulders, Dulorme will suffer under Felix Trinidad or Thomas Hearns comparisons moving from 132 to 147 pounds in only three years.
All of this means nothing to his opponent, Henry Lundy, a Philadelphia-based boxer/puncher who is not one to give foes much credit or an inch of respect in the ring. A veteran of the famed Philly Gym Wars, Lundy told Fightnews.com he is not the least bit impressed with Dulorme, “He’s basic, a lot of jabs. Nothing special. He can’t fight on the inside and doesn’t have a chin. If he gets caught upstairs, he falls apart. Once I get in front of you, I can fool you. You don’t know where I’m coming from. They assume a lot because I’m short but I’ve got a lot of tricks up my sleeve.” Lundy claims Dulorme is a product of matchmaking, “As far as him being a power-puncher, I don’t see it. I’m not taking anything away from Mayfield but Mayfield was right in front of him and [Dulorme] couldn’t stop him. If he’s such a puncher, why didn’t he knock out Mayfield? If you look at some of his knockouts, those were against lesser opponents. Who were they? They were nobody.”
Henry Lundy’s verbal boasts have not escaped Thomas Dulorme’s attention, “Hank Lundy has been doing a lot of trash-talking, saying I’m nobody. He’s going to have a rude awakening. I’m going to do my talking in the ring and everyone will know who the superior fighter is once the fight is over. I plan on stealing the show.” The back-and-forth makes Gary Shaw’s work easier, though he claims merit, not management, will take Dulorme to the top.
“I believe he is going to be the next 140-pound champion of the world. He will do his talking in the ring,” insists Shaw. “The single most important thing is that he’s not a trash-talker; he’s just a fighter.” Given the quality of talent at junior welterweight (Danny Garcia, Lucas Matthysse, Ruslan Provodnikov, Lamont Peterson, Jessie Vargas and Adrien Broner), Dulorme will have to be more than “just a fighter” to maintain a roster spot on HBO. Dulorme needs to avoid the proverbial third strike and become the home run hitter many envision him to be.